Vol. 7

CARY STOUGH
The Year I Sat in the Empty Parking Lot Until Dawn Wondering When My Voice Would Change

 

I was at the county fair and you told me a joke titled Three Priests Walk into a Bar: A priest, a naked priest, & another priest walk into a bar, (the bar is boarded up), the priests talk in low accents & what goes on among them is none of our business. Was the third priest naked, too, or just the second? I asked. Don’t worry about it, you said. So, this bar is said to contain chambers inaccessible by mortal men and women, right? You wouldn’t notice anything special about the bar simply by standing at its one dusty counter, & so this is why God made priests, naked or otherwise. The naked priest shakes sawdust off his ass after falling back hard against the bar’s northern wall. The first priest carves a declaration into the other priest’s arm, a document later referred to as Notes Toward the Establishment of a Code of Ethics to Be Followed by the Company of Lost Souls. Written as it were on the arm of a priest & accordingly recited upon each subsequent meeting of such priest, whether in a dim or light-inviting land, it was a temporary dictum at best, but followed strictly. I’m thinking of a word that signifies an object that is repeatedly energized, as if by catharsis or electricity. Could you help me think of it? I’ll try to think of it, I said, and when I think of it, I’ll let you know. Oh, why did the first priest have to go & do such a tremendously horrid thing? Do what? I asked. Oh, I don’t know. Why do the supple ones wander while we stand in the rain? So, I told you about the time three priests walked into a bar, right? Yes, I said, one of them carves a sort of holy script into the arm of another. Thereby cursing the whole order of priests, you said, those to come and even those who had already died and gone to heaven. I know all about it … Utterance of the unspoken word is its disappearance, yes yes yes yes yes.  What do you want from me, an autograph? What? I asked. What about the third priest, was he naked, too? You shrugged your left shoulder and my left arm unhinged. You’ve never been alone & I love that about you. From the parking lot, I heard the various ringing of bells. But I was alone.

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